Book Honduras with Sunwing to earn bonus commission STAR Points

first_imgBook Honduras with Sunwing to earn bonus commission & STAR Points Posted by Tuesday, December 5, 2017 Travelweek Group Sharecenter_img TORONTO — Throughout the month of December, Sunwing is offering agents 4% bonus commission on all new bookings to Roatan and La Ceiba, Honduras.The tour operator has partnered with select hotels and resorts in both destinations for the month of December. The promotion runs until Dec. 31.In addition to commission, agents will also receive STAR Agent Reward Points that convert into cash. Plus, each time an agent makes a booking to any participating resort in either destination, they’ll gain a ballot for a chance to win an all-inclusive vacation for two to one of these vacation hotspots. The more bookings an agent makes, the more chances they’ll have to win.A seven-day, all-inclusive vacation package will be given away each week during the promotion.Participating resorts are offering various incentives throughout the month, from complimentary room upgrades to resort credits. For example, guests can enjoy incredible diving at a reduced rate with select pre-sold packages at Fantasy Island Beach Resort, Dive and Marina in Roatan, a family-friendly resort nestled on its own 21-acre private island.More news: Sunwing offers ultimate package deal ahead of YXU flights to SNU, PUJOther participating resorts include: Mayan Princess Beach and Dive Resort; Paradise Beach Hotel and Resort; Infinity Bay Spa and Beach resort; Palma Real Beach Resort and Villas; The Lodge at Pico Bonito, and more.Sunwing offers weekly flights from Montreal and Toronto to both La Ceiba and Roatan. New for this season, clients from Bagotville and Quebec will be able to take advantage of a new flight service to Roatan departing Mondays between Dec. 18, 2017 and April 16, 2018.All packages in the promotion include return flights on Sunwing Airlines. For more information on the promotion, visit sunwingagents.ca. Tags: Commission, Honduras, Sunwing << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

Crossborder shopping Allianz says dont forget the insurance

first_img Posted by TORONTO — With back-to-school season fast approaching, many Canadians are scrambling to squeeze in final one-day trips across the border in search of deals.According to Statistics Canada, from January to the end of May 2018, Canadians made 18.1 million trips to the U.S., an increase of 11.5% compared with the same five months in 2017. In May of this year alone, Canadians made 3.9 million trips across the border, up almost 18% from a year earlier. More than three-quarters of those trips (3.0 million) were made by car.Both same-day (+20.9%) and overnight (+12.3%) car trips were up from May of the previous year, when much of Central and Eastern Canada experienced unusually wet weather.But Allianz Global Assistance Canada is reminding Canadians that while provincial government healthcare programs will cover a small percentage of medical expenses incurred in the U.S., these plans won’t come close to covering the actual cost of treatments, which can be thousands of dollars.More news: Help Princess Cruises break the world record for largest vow renewal at sea“Canadians typically have a good awareness of the need for travel insurance, with 78% indicating they were covered by some form of private travel insurance on their last trip, according to the Conference Board of Canada,” said Dan Keon, Vice President, Market Management, Allianz Global Assistance Canada. “However, travel insurance may not be top of mind for Canadians who are only going to be in the U.S. for a few hours or overnight for cross-border shopping, especially when they’re still relatively close to home.”Keon added that just getting a few stitches in an American hospital could cost upwards of $3,000, or a sprained ankle around $2,000.“More serious injuries requiring surgery or hospital stays, such as those resulting from auto collisions, will also increase medical costs considerably and possibly into the tens of thousands of dollars,” he sad. “Too frequently, travellers just don’t consider that something adverse could happen on a simple day trip.”More news: Canada raises travel warning amid escalating protests in Hong KongLess than 1.4% of the single trip medical policies purchased through Allianz’ broker and travel agent partners were for one or two day trips, said Keon, which suggests there may be a coverage gap that’s putting Canadians needlessly at risk.“When you consider how common it is for Canadians to cross the border, particularly for shopping, it’s concerning that some travellers may not be considering the financial consequences of a medical emergency during these shorter trips.”Keon recommends that travellers who make several day trips across the border each year consider annual multi-trip medical coverage. This type of plan provides emergency medical coverage for an unlimited number of trips during a one-year period, allowing the customer to “set it and forget it, and stay protected each and every time they leave the country.”For more information go to allianz-assistance.ca. Travelweek Group Cross-border shopping? Allianz says don’t forget the insurance Sharecenter_img Tags: USA & Canada << Previous PostNext Post >> Thursday, August 23, 2018 last_img read more

Jacó Happenings

first_imgNo related posts. Liana Robinson worked very hard to establish the library in Jacó, and now she needs funding. Please help save the library! The Jacó Library and Learning Center will host a charity fundraiser dinner Wednesday, July 25 from 6:30-10 p.m. at EAT! Restaurant.Tickets are $30 and include a three-course meal, a glass of house wine, entertainment and more. Join us and help support the library so it can continue serving the community. Tickets are available at the Jacó Library and at EAT! For more information, contact Liana at 8378-9978 or email bibliotecadejaco@gmail.com. On Saturday, July 21, stop in to the Riviera Home Center from noon-5 p.m. for a party in which the new Bali line will be unveiled. The new collection is arriving from Indonesia, and the famous Riviera Cama will also be on display. For more information, call 2643-1860 or email ville@rivierahomecenter.com. –Christina Truittchristina_truitt@yahoo.com Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Quake rattles Mexico resort

first_imgNo related posts. ACAPULCO, Mexico – A strong earthquake and several aftershocks rattled southern Mexico on Wednesday, collapsing eight homes while forcing schools, hotels and hospitals to evacuate in the Pacific resort of Acapulco.The magnitude-6.0 earthquake swayed buildings as far away as Mexico City, prompting evacuations, but authorities said no damage or injuries were reported in the megalopolis.The temblor struck as people prepared to head to work and school, with an epicenter located 17 kilometers west of the town of San Marcos in the southern state of Guerrero, the National Seismology Center said.The earthquake was followed by eight aftershocks, the strongest reaching magnitude-5.62, some 14 kilometers northeast of Acapulco, where hillside boulders rolled into a street and some hotel facades showed cracks while tourists poured into the streets.Authorities reported damage at five hospitals and three schools but officials did not report injuries, and Guerrero Governor Angel Aguirre said there were no fatalities. Classes were suspended and some 200 patients were evacuated from the hospitals.Mexico City is 440 kilometers north of San Marcos, but the capital can sense distant earthquakes because it lies on muddy soil from drained lakes.A magnitude-8.1 earthquake in 1985 left 3,700 people dead in the capital, according to official figures, though civil groups say more than 20,000 died. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Chinas Xi in Cuba on last stop of Latin America swing

first_imgRelated posts:Chinese leader’s visit has big implications for Latin America China offers $20 billion fund for Latin America infrastructure projects Cuba’s Christmas surprise for Caracas Obama to make historic visit to Cuba in March HAVANA, Cuba – Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in Cuba late Monday, officials said, the last stop on a Latin American tour that has stressed trade and aid more than ideology.“Inside Jose Martí International airport, Xi was welcomed by first Vice President Miguel Díaz-Canel and diplomats from the Chinese mission here,” Cuba’s state news agency Prensa Latina reported.Xi arrived from Caracas for a two-day official visit to the Americas’ only one-party communist nation.The Chinese leader is looking to bolster trade and cooperation with Cuba. Beijing already is Cuba’s No. 2 trade partner after Venezuela, and its top source of credit.Xi — who has visited Brazil, Argentina and Venezuela on this trip — has a meeting scheduled with President Raúl Castro, 83, at the Palace of the Revolution on Tuesday. The two leaders are expected to sign bilateral agreements but there has been no advance word on their focus.On Wednesday, Xi will visit Santiago de Cuba, the country’s second-largest city which was hard hit in October 2012 by Hurricane Sandy. The storm killed 11 people and destroyed 17,000 homes and damaged thousands more. Many believe Xi will announce Chinese cooperation in the city, perhaps in rebuilding housing.The Chinese leader also could pay a visit to retired revolutionary leader Fidel Castro, 87, who led Cuba for five decades. He stepped aside eight years ago during a health crisis. Russian President Vladimir Putin visited with the elder statesman on a visit to Cuba 10 days ago.Oil deals in CaracasEarlier in Caracas Xi signed a raft of oil and mineral deals with Venezuela. On the trip, he has reached out to resource-rich countries such as Venezuela and Argentina at a time when they are often shunned by the United States and Europe.The deals spanned a range of sectors from oil to infrastructure and included $4 billion for a joint development fund, $691 million to explore Venezuela’s gold and copper reserves and an agreement to develop the countries’ third joint satellite.“Venezuela has become one of the top countries for Chinese investment, … our seventh oil supplier and fourth Latin American trade partner,” Xi said in Caracas.The Venezuela visit comes after the Chinese leader agreed to an $11-billion currency swap with Argentina and extended much-needed investment to President Cristina Kirchner, whose cash-strapped government, locked out of capital markets since defaulting on its debt in 2001, is staring down the threat of another default.Xi kicked off his tour last week by proposing a new $20-billion infrastructure fund for Latin America, underlining the fast-growing Asian giant’s increasing interest in the region.He also launched a new $50-billon development bank along with the other emerging powers of the so-called BRICS group — Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa — at a summit in Brazil.The move, which creates an alternative to the Western-dominated World Bank, was hailed as contributing to “a new international order” by Cuban President Raúl Castro — Xi’s host at the next and final stop on his tour.‘Not about ideology’But although Xi has spent his trip rubbing elbows with leftist leaders who tend to view the United States with a critical eye, his tour is less about ideology than business, said Venezuelan political analyst Carlos Romero.“China’s political and economic expansion is pragmatic in character. It’s not about ideology or competition with the United States, but a Chinese policy of looking long-term for natural resources in different parts of the world,” he told AFP.“China knows Argentina and Venezuela hold huge natural resource deposits, particularly two they are desperately searching for to fuel an economy and a society like China’s: oil and food in the case of Argentina, and oil and gas in the case of Venezuela.”The partnership comes at a welcome time for Venezuela, which is in the midst of an inflation crisis and struggling under a pile of unpaid debts to foreign firms.China, the second-largest market for Venezuelan oil after the United States, pays for its average 640,000 daily barrels in part by writing down the $17-billion debt Caracas owes it.Both countries have said they want to increase oil exports to one million barrels a day in the coming years.Chinese trade with Latin America has grown rapidly in recent years, reaching $261.6 billion in 2013. China is now the second-largest trading partner of many countries, including Argentina and Cuba, and has been Brazil’s largest since 2009.In 1990, China ranked just 17th on the list of Latin American export destinations.Beijing has also ramped up investment in Latin America to about 20 percent of its total foreign direct investment of $90 billion last year.This is Xi’s second visit to Latin America and the Caribbean since taking office in 2013. Last year he toured Mexico, Costa Rica and Trinidad and Tobago.Recommended: Public works deals should go back to the drawing board, says Solís in meeting with Chinese president Facebook Commentslast_img read more

OAS chief urges new approach to failed war on drugs

first_imgWASHINGTON, D.C. – With the Organization of American States due to hold a special general assembly in Guatemala on illicit drugs in less than a week, OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza insisted there now exists “regional consensus” regarding drug use and trafficking throughout the hemisphere.In a wide-ranging speech Tuesday at the Inter-American Dialogue in Washington, Insulza said the 35 OAS member nations no longer see the drug problem as a public safety matter but rather as a public health issue. Authorities also want alternatives to jailing drug addicts, he said.The main theme of the Sept. 19 gathering in Guatemala is “For a Hemispheric Drug Policy in the 21st Century.” Its conclusions will be presented at the 2016 General Assembly of the United Nations.Insulza, citing an OAS report presented in May 2013 to Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, said the decades-old “war on drugs” was simply not working.“There are more and more addicts, more people in jail, and still we haven’t solved the problem,” he said. “The war on drugs has been successful in the sense that half of the cocaine produced in 2011 was confiscated, and we have 3.6 million people in jail in the Americas, almost 40 percent of them for drug-related offenses. But business is better than ever. We don’t see how to stop it.”This largely explains why lawmakers at all levels of government across the Americas now talk less about absolute prohibition and “zero tolerance” – and more about decriminalization or legalization of marijuana possession, and sharply reduced penalties for those involved in the production and sale of pot and other illicit drugs.That’s a huge switch from 10 years ago, when few mainstream political leaders in Latin America discusses these ideas openly. These days, proponents of decriminalization include not only the president of Uruguay, José Mujica, but also the former presidents of Brazil, Mexico and Colombia.Recommended: Drug policy in Central America criminalizes poverty, says Costa Rica Public Security Minister For illustrative purposes. Costa Rican police watch over a cocaine seizure. The Tico TimesAccording to Inter-American Dialogue, “the landmark OAS report sets out the data and analysis that make clear the risks of sticking with current approaches. It also carefully lays out the alternatives, which present their own risks and benefits. Since its publication, the report has substantially enriched policy discussions and debates about drugs and given new credibility to those who have been arguing for changes in policy.”Insulza, a former Chilean interior minister who’s led the OAS since 2005, did say there seems to be less agreement in Latin America than in the United States on how to proceed. He conceded that the region’s heads of state are divided, with some of them refusing to weaken the war on drugs, and others not wanting to accept that it was failing.“We have to improve our work in matters of prevention and treatment if we’re really going to deal with the problem, but this is easier said than done,” Insulza told his audience of about 100 people, which included U.S. government officials, analysts, journalists and representatives from a dozen foreign embassies in Washington. “Some people will say that talking about this as a health problem is a way to avoid the issue.”Chile has the region’s highest coverage for drug abusers, treating at most 25 percent for their addictions.“One of every four drug addicts are really treated as addicts in my country, and even then, it’s not really clear how they should be treated,” he said. “Of all the people who use drugs, no more than 10 percent are actually drug addicts. The people who are really sick are those who use cocaine every day. Most of them experience drug use without ever becoming addicts who need treatment.”Recommended: Advocates of drug policy reform have a new voice in Costa Rica: members of law enforcementAsuntos del Sur, a Chilean think tank that supports the decriminalization of marijuana possession, last year conducted a regional survey revealing that “younger generations of Latin Americans are breaking from traditional views and are much more open” to changing their government’s current approach to drug policy.The lowest level of support for legalization and regulation of marijuana was found in El Salvador (23 percent), while the highest was in Argentina (80 percent) and Chile (79 percent). Seven out of 10 people polled in those two countries said recreational use is an individual right. Meanwhile, respondents across the region expressed low opinions of the effectiveness of government campaigns aimed at reducing drug use; 52 percent of Chileans and 46 percent of Mexicans disapproved of these campaigns.Besides growing opposition to the long-term detention of youths for minor drug offenses, high rates of incarceration lead to prison overcrowding, Insulza said.“If somebody’s ill, you don’t send him to jail for that. But most people in jail for drugs [in Latin America] are there for possession of a very small quantity,” the OAS chief explained. “Even though there’s a political consensus that we shouldn’t punish drug users, several countries continue to do so – even some countries where the law says you don’t go to jail for using drugs.”At the same time, Insulza said the region’s new approach to drugs in no way means it has given up the fight against organized crime gangs. On the contrary, he said that “in this area there is also consensus on the need to combat these groups operating outside the law.” Uruguayan President José Mujica gestures during an interview with Agence France-Presse at his house, on the outskirts of Montevideo on July 9, 2014. The South American country in December became the first in the world to announce that it would regulate the market for cannabis and its derivatives, a bold move by authorities frustrated with losing resources to fighting drug trafficking. Daniel Caselli/AFPWhen it comes to the OAS, however, skepticism abounds.Christopher Sabatini, senior director of policy at the Americas Society, said that pronouncements by the regional body do not necessary translate into action.“The OAS provides a forum for discussion of the issue, and its reports on drug production serves as an important source in the public debate,” he said. “The problem is that – as with all things in the OAS proper – the information and the potential to react to it are held captive to the consensus-based, political nature of the OAS.”For example, said Sabatini, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime has determined that coca production is increasing in Bolivia, but what are the implications for regional policy of this finding?“On that follow-through, the OAS has struggled,” he said.Recommended: US Southern Command discusses drug policy with Costa Rica’s Solís Facebook Comments Related posts:Drug policy in Central America criminalizes poverty, says Costa Rica Public Security Minister Global drug policy isn’t working. These 100-plus organizations want that to change. Medical marijuana opponents’ most powerful argument is at odds with a mountain of research It’s time to end the war on drugslast_img read more

Chicharrón Fair delicious despite poor attendance

first_img“There aren’t as many people this year,” said one merchant working the fairgrounds yesterday. “Last year, the parking lot was full.” He gestured to the grassy fields that served as a parking area, which were mostly empty.No one could pinpoint exactly why the Chicharrón Fair in Puriscal was so quiet this year, but there were some convincing theories: Organizers had failed to procure the usual carnival rides, one of the big draws for families. Indeed, there was hardly a child to be found. Many of the vendors were not based in Santiago de Puriscal, a town nestled in the mountains west of San José, where the chicharrón is famously well-prepared. Also, the sky was overcast and passing rain showers kept even more people at bay. Even the shack reserved for handling a boa constrictor didn’t attract many customers.However, for the 100 or so people wandering the fairgrounds on Saturday, the fair’s fare was still delicious. Throughout the Spanish-speaking world, chicharrón is generally defined as pork rinds, and it is eaten alone or in various platters, including and Costa Rican chifrijo and Nicaraguan vigorón. But at the Chicharrón Fair, the preparation is much meatier – entire blocks of pork are fried on the spot, mixed with vegetables, pico de gallo, and yucca, then voraciously devoured.“This type is called chilopo,” said Arnoldo Zúñiga, owner of Cheese & Steak Bar in Cartago, as he cut the meat. “I serve it with a special blend of cheeses, Turrialba and some others. It’s delicious.”Despite the absence of toro bullfights and rusty rides, participants managed to find things to do: A group of young men threw around a Frisbee, people browsed the gift stalls, and some people paid a modest ₡20,000 ($40) for a helicopter ride around Puriscal’s breathtaking alpine countryside. When the rain started to fall and patrons headed for cover beneath the chicharrón tents, people started ordering exponentially greater numbers of bottles of Imperial.Maybe it will be better next year. Robert Isenberg/The Tico Times Robert Isenberg/The Tico Times Facebook Comments Robert Isenberg/The Tico Times Robert Isenberg/The Tico Times Robert Isenberg/The Tico Timescenter_img Robert Isenberg/The Tico Times Robert Isenberg/The Tico Times Robert Isenberg/The Tico Times Robert Isenberg/The Tico Times Related posts:It’s Christmas time in the city National Theater announces 2015 season FIA-sco! Arts Festival delayed, afternoon events cancelled in Alajuelita and Acosta Announcing ‘News and Brews,’ a Tico Times eventlast_img read more

Valentines Day lyrical boleros and other happenings around Costa Rica

first_imgRelated posts:Shakespearean ballet, outdoor tango, and other happenings around Costa Rica Design Festival, Marine Corps picnic, and other happenings around Costa Rica Festival of Light, Egyptian dancers, and other happenings around Costa Rica Art fair, Renaissance artist, and other happenings around Costa Rica Film: “Blue is the Warmest Color”Abdellatif Kechiche’s spectacularly intense lesbian drama earned intense acclaim and criticism. Catch this French-language drama at the Alianza Francesa.Film screens Feb. 13 at the Alianza Francesa, Barrio Amón. 6 p.m. Free. Info: Alianza Francesa website.Film: Cinema CycleSlowly but surely, seriously bicycling is picking up speed in Costa Rica. The “Ciclo de Cine” celebrates two-wheeled conveyance with the second in its film series, “Still We Ride,” about the controversial Critical Mass movement in New York City.“Ciclo de Cine” takes place Feb. 10 at Museo Rafael Angel Calderón Guardia, Barrio Escalante. 5 p.m. Free. Info: RedCultura.Theater: “The House of the Spirits”Isabel Allende’s masterpiece comes to life during this stage adaptation by U.S. playwright Caridad Svich. After last year’s extremely successful run, Teatro Espressivo revives the Spanish-language production for a second round.“La Casa de los Espiritus” runs Jan. 15 – Feb. 15 at Teatro Espressivo, Tres Ríos. Thu.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 6 p.m. ₡10,000-15,000 ($20-30). Info: Teatro Espressivo website.Theater: “I’m Not Going to Carry This Corpse”Teatro Arlequín presents a deadly new comedy of errors, written by Luis Daell Barth.“Este Muerto no lo Cargo Yo” continues through March 22 at Teatro Arlequín, downtown San José. Thu.-Sat., 8 p.m; Sun., 6 p.m. ₡5,000 ($10). Info: Theater Facebook page.Art: Albrecht Dürer, Renaissance GeniusClassical German printer Albrecht Dürer receives a stunning retrospective at the Central Bank Museums.“Alberto Durero: Genio del Renacimiento” displays through April 26 at the Central Bank Museums, downtown San José. Daily, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. ₡5,500 ($11). Info: Museum website.Film: “Maikol Yordan”From the madcap minds of “Media Docena,” the hit Costa Rican sketch show, comes their first feature film, a comedy about the well-meaning yokel Maikol Yordan. How will this goofy campesino fare on his globe-trotting tour? Find out by catching this super-Tico comedy at almost any local movie theater.“Maikol Yordan” screens at various cinemas across the country. For more information about the film, visit the official Facebook page.Exhibit: “Juan Rafael Mora”Recognized for his muttonchops and paternal demeanor, Juan Rafael Monge is widely considered the Abraham Lincoln of Costa Rica. The National Archives displays images of this founding father to the public.Exhibit continues through Feb. 28 at the National Archives, Zapote. Free. Info: Archives website.Art: “Ricardo Ávila: Urban Observer”See city life in a whole new way through Ricardo Ávila’s unique landscapes.“Ricardo Ávila: Observador Urbano” continues through March 29 at the Museum of Costa Rican Art, La Sabana. Wed.-Sun., 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Free. Info: Museum website. Facebook Comments Valentine’s DayRemember: Feb. 14 is Valentine’s Day, and if there’s somebody special in your life, it’s about time you took them to that fancy fusion restaurant in Santa Ana. Everybody celebrates Valentine’s Day in different ways, and shops and eateries across the country will have special deals and events. Just keep an eye out for “Día de San Valentín.”Music: Bolero LíricoThe traditional “bolero” is a slow and sultry musical form, but the hip performers of Orquesta Madera Nueva give the genre a whole new twist at the National Theater.Concert takes place Feb. 14 at The National Theater, downtown San José. 8 p.m. ₡7,000-10,000. Info: National Theater website.Little Theatre Group Wine and Cheese PartyCosta Rica’s only English-language theater company welcomes veterans and newcomers to their open house event. Learn about auditions, catch some previews of these season’s productions, and make some new friends.Open house takes place Feb. 14 at the Hallette household, Escazú. Call for information and to RSVP at 8858-1446.Music: “Symphonic Summer”The National Symphony Orchestra celebrates fine weather in the most playful of places – the Parque de Diversiones amusement park.Concert takes place Feb. 15 in Parque de Diversiones, Pavas. 5 p.m. Free. Info: Parque de Diversiones website.last_img read more

Lawmakers approve Chinese loan for expanding Route 32 to the Caribbean

first_imgRelated posts:Chinese contractor says cost of expanding Route 32 could rise Costa Rica’s Solís administration seeks changes to $485 million China-backed highway contract Costa Rican exporters report Route 32 closure cost them an extra $800,000 Comptroller General’s Office approves contract to expand Route 32 Costa Rican lawmakers overwhelmingly voted on Monday in favor of signing a $395 million loan from the Chinese government to fund the expansion of Costa Rica’sRoute 32, the main highway connecting San José and the Caribbean province of Limón. The vote tally was 45 to 6.The loan represents 85 percent of the project’s $465 million cost. The Costa Rican government will fund the remaining $70 million.The loan, which is part of a contract to expand from two to four lanes the 107-kilometer highway, comes with the condition that the project be developed entirely by China Harbour Engineering Company using only Chinese workers, caveats that raised concerns among lawmakers who opposed the contract.Six legislators voted against the loan, including five from the ruling Citizens’ Action Party: Otton Solís, Epsy Campbell, Franklin Corella, Nidia Jiménez and Javier Cambronero. The other “no” vote came from Broad Front Party’s Ligia Fallas.The deadline for approving the loan in a second and final round of debate is Feb. 28, a date set by the Chinese government to lock in the loan’s current conditions, including a fixed interest rate of 6 percent for 20 years. The final vote likely will occur at Thursday’s legislative session.On Monday morning the Federated Association of Engineers and Architects issued a statement citing concerns regarding alleged miscalculations in the dimensions of the highway. They also outlined security issues and expressed doubts on procedures to expropriate private lands needed for the expansion.Costa Rican President Luis Guillermo Solís said he hoped lawmakers would pass the bill. He said he believed the doubts cited by the engineers and architects association and other opposing sectors were easy to resolve.“If the bill is not approved the country will lose the opportunity to have a first-class highway,” Solís said. “If they don’t pass it, that highway will never be built. We will have to wait another 25, 30 or 40 years, just like what happened with the Costanera highway,” he said, referring to delays in the construction of Route 27 to the Pacific.Last week Solís promised to include in the 2016 national budget approximately $20 million needed to pay for the expropriation of land and the relocation of public utilities along the capital-Caribbean route. At the same time, Presidency Minister Melvin Jiménez announced the administration’s decision to table from the Legislative Assembly’s agenda 16 bills that were scheduled to be heard ahead of the Chinese loan package in order to move along the vote.Earlier on Monday a group of some 30 truck drivers demonstrated in front of the Assembly’s main building in San José demanding the approval of the Chinese loan. Some 80 percent of Costa Rica’s exports leave the country via Caribbean docks. Many business and political leaders see expansion of the highway as key to boosting exports. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

UK to designate Pitcairn Island area as the biggest protected ocean area

first_imgWhen the mutineers of the HMS Bounty landed on Pitcairn Island in 1790, they believed they had found the perfect refuge: a fertile Eden in a remote corner of the South Pacific where Capt. William Bligh and the rest of the British navy could never find them.Some 225 years later, the island and its waters may soon become a sanctuary of a different kind. The British government said Wednesday that it intends to designate a vast area around the island as the world’s largest protected marine reserve, assuring that its natural riches will remain pristine for generations to come.The plan to designate the region as a Marine Protected Area is spelled out in budget documents released by British officials, and is contingent on finalizing agreements for satellite monitoring and enforcement in the proposed ocean park. But barring a technical hitch, restrictions will be soon be imposed on a 322,000-square-mile area around Pitcairn and three sister islands that contains an usual wealth of coral reefs as well as marine species ranging from sea mammals to sharks, according to scientists involved in planning for the preserve.“It was like traveling to a new world full of hidden and unknown treasures,” said Enric Sala, a marine biologist and explorer-in-residence for National Geographic who participated in a 2012 scientific expedition to the islands. With the creation of the sanctuary, he said, the area’s biological bounty “will now be preserved for generations to come.”As a marine park, the area would be off limits to commercial fishing as well as undersea mining or oil and gas exploration. Covering an area three times the size of Great Britain, it would be the biggest continuous area of protected ocean in the world, and the second-biggest nature reserve of any kind after East Greenland National Park.The 2-mile-long main island is best known as the final resting place of the HMS Bounty, the 18th century British ship that was seized by rebellious crew members in 1789 in an episode celebrated in books and films as the “Mutiny on the Bounty.” The mutineers, led by Fletcher Christian, set the boat’s captain and 18 other seamen adrift in a small boat and then sailed off on a months-long search for a hiding place safe from passing British naval patrols.Eventually, nine of the mutineers ended up on tiny Pitcairn Island with an entourage of 17 Tahitian men and women and an infant. Christian burned the ship and built a settlement on the island, which remained undetected for 18 years. All but one of the original mutineers had died by the time the settlement was discovered by a passing American vessel in 1808.The remoteness that attracted the Bounty’s mutineers makes the region ideally suited for a sanctuary, scientists say. Located in the middle of the South Pacific about 3,000 miles northeast of New Zealand, Pitcairn’s waters are virtually unspoiled. The main island’s current population of 56 people — all descendants of the mutineers and their Tahitian companions — are the only inhabitants, and large portions of the seabed have never been explored.Scientific expeditions so far have documented more than 1,200 species, including four types of endangered whales and two endangered sea turtles. The region’s ecosystem also includes the world’s deepest known plant species, a kind of encrusting coral that thrives at 1,200 feet below sea level, as well as a coral atoll known as the 40 Mile Reef, considered by scientists to be one of the most developed and deepest reefs of its kind anywhere.Under a unique arrangement, remote monitoring of the site will be supplied by the Pew Charitable Trusts, through its Project Eyes on the Seas program, which uses satellite tracking data to detect illegal fishing. Matt Rand, director of Pew’s Global Ocean Legacy, said the creation of the preserve builds a “refuge of untouched ocean to protect and conserve a wealth of marine life.”© 2015, The Washington Post Facebook Comments Related posts:Half of marine life wiped out in 40 years: WWF China’s panda population is growing, and that’s a problem Brooklyn yoga studio plans fundraiser to protect Costa Rican rain forest UK documentary series seeks British families going back to nature in Costa Ricalast_img read more

Quiet tip unleashed Panama Papers

first_imgIt began with a message — anonymous, of course: “Hello. This is John Doe. Interested in data?”The recipient, German newspaper reporter Bastian Obermayer, promptly responded that he was. What followed was almost unimaginable: “Doe” began forwarding files that ultimately contained 11.5 million documents, four decades’ worth of digitized records from a Panamanian law firm that specializes in setting up offshore companies for wealthy clients.The Doe data dump to Obermayer and his colleague Frederik Obermaier in 2014 eventually triggered a unique cooperative project among journalists around the world. The effort culminated on Sunday when, in a coordinated release, dozens of news organizations began publishing stories about the Panama Papers. The vast cache outlines how world leaders, celebrities and individuals have used offshore companies to shield their wealth from public disclosure, and in some cases possibly to avoid taxes or mask illegal activity.Read: Costa Rica in the Panama Papers leakThe first wave of stories — the disclosures could go on for years — has already led Iceland’s prime minister to tender his resignation over revelations of his offshore holdings. Among the thousands of people named in the documents are Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, King Salman of Saudi Arabia, Chinese President Xi Jinping’s family members, close associates of Russian President Vladimir Putin, British Prime Minister David Cameron’s late father, Ian, and soccer superstar Lionel Messi. The news reports prompted President Barack Obama, among others, to call for international tax reform.More than a year after Doe first contacted them at their Munich-based newspaper, Suddeutsche Zeitung, Obermayer, 38, and Obermaier, 32, still have no idea who their source is or why he or she (or possibly they) came to them.To protect Doe’s identity and safety, however, they remain purposely guarded about what they do know. “We can’t disclose any numbers or times (of contact), of course, or if we are still in contact,” Obermayer said in an exchange of emails Wednesday. “But we have communicated a lot, through different ways, all encrypted. On some days, I chatted more with the source than with my wife. We had a lot to talk about.”The little background they gleaned involves the source’s motivation, which Obermayer quotes this way: “‘I want you to report on the material and to make these crimes public.’” The source never asked for financial compensation, they said.The extent of the material from the law firm, Mossack Fonseca & Co., proved so daunting — it would take more than 38,000 average-sized books to contain 11.5 million pages — that the German reporters turned to the Washington-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) for help.ICIJ, an 11-person unit of the nonprofit Center for Public Integrity, had worked with the German newspaper and other news organizations on cross-border investigations before. The organization coordinated reporters in 45 countries last year to investigate leaked files from a Swiss private-banking firm that hid hundreds of millions of dollars from tax authorities. The “Swiss Leaks” project followed one a few months earlier involving the revelation of secret tax deals between hundreds of global companies and officials in Luxembourg.But the sheer sprawl of the Panama Papers, covering thousands of names and entities around the world, presented a much larger challenge.Working gradually, region by region, ICIJ assembled a team of 370 journalists from about 100 media organizations spread over 70 countries, according to Michael Hudson and Marina Walker, the ICIJ’s senior editor and project manager, respectively. (The organization’s American media partners were McClatchy Newspapers and Fusion, the website and cable network; The Washington Post and ICIJ were partners on a 2013 investigation of tax havens.)The goal was to find local journalists who knew the territory. “Instead of us parachuting in to do reporting, we let the folks on ground do it,” Hudson said. “So many of the most important stories today are so complex and so global that the old-style lone-wolf reporter or Woodward and Bernstein just can’t do it.”The effort, known internally as Project Prometheus, required an unusual degree of cooperation among typically competitive news organizations. The “partners” had to agree to share newsworthy nuggets with the entire group, and not to publish anything ahead of the mass release on Sunday.All of the particulars were spelled out in a series of meetings held in Washington, Munich and Johannesburg last year.The potential for security breaches also required the journalists to remain tight-lipped about the project for months on end. Digital protections are one thing, but “sometimes the weakest link is the human link,” Walker said. “We told people, ‘Don’t leave your computer open. Don’t open (WiFi) in a cafeteria. And if you ever lose your phone, tell us.”The precautions seemed to have worked; the first public inklings of the project came only last week when Russian officials, contacted by reporters for comment, denounced the questions and falsely accused ICIJ of being an arm of the U.S. government.The upshot may be that there is strength in numbers. Said Obermaier: “We are always better in a huge group of journalists than doing it alone.”© 2016, The Washington Post Facebook Comments Related posts:Iceland premier resigns in Panama Papers scandal Panama and ‘Panama Papers’ law firm under the media’s lenses Football: Messi denies tax evasion in Panama Papers scandal Panama Papers: secret accounts of the rich and powerfullast_img read more

PHOTOS Students LGBT activists join public workers in May Day demonstration

first_imgMay Day in Costa Rica this year brought together protesters from public workers unions and a wide variety of other groups, including high school and public universities students, sex workers, indigenous people, LGBT activists, feminists and socialists.The annual march started at about 10 a.m. in front of La Merced Park on San José’s Avenida 2. Another group of protesters joined the march a few blocks ahead. That bloc was formed by groups asking support for Cuba, Palestine, Venezuela and even a small group of self-identified anarchists who took the front of the march. The mostly scattered group covered some four blocks along Ave. 2.Public workers unions marched, as always, to commemorate International Workers’ Day, also known as May Day or Labor Day, but they focused their protests this year against bills under discussion at the Legislative Assembly that would broaden taxes, and curb public sector salaries and benefits.Along the march route and upon their arrival in front of the Assembly, protesters displayed banners and chanted slogans against the government, particularly President Luis Guillermo Solís and his cabinet members.Some signs bore harsh insults aimed at the president. One read: “No more Luis Gui, or any of his ministers! We will never again accept any of those bourgeois oppressors of the working class!”Wrath was also aimed at former presidents Óscar Arias and José María Figueres, both of whom are rumored to be interested in the 2018 presidential nomination from the National Liberation Party.No major incidentsThe May Day demonstrations ended peacefully around 1 p.m. In past years, groups have vandalized the Legislative Assembly buildings and clashed with cops.National Police officers formed a perimeter around the Assembly’s main building early on Sunday morning. Security measures also included closing traffic access to all surrounding streets.AgreementsAlbino Vargas, secretary general of the National Association of Public and Private Employees, the country’s largest union, demanded lawmakers meet protesters on the street and accept a list of demands. After several minutes, Henry Mora from ruling Citizen Action Party and Broad Front’s Gerardo Vargas agreed to meet with protesters and accepted the documents.Legislators had a long work day Sunday, negotiating for the election of a new directorate, which was sworn in Sunday evening. According to Vargas, Mora has pledged to propose an amendment to move the election of the Legislative Directorate to a different date “in order to leave May 1 only as a celebration date for workers.”See photos from the Labor Day demonstration: Related posts:Caja Executive President steps down at President Solís’ request Costa Rica President Solís advocates for migrants at UN General Assembly President Luis Guillermo Solís to meet with U.S. Vice President Michael Pence Hundreds of medical procedures, surgeries postponed by public workers’ strike L. Arias/The Tico Timescenter_img Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Train service in Costa Rica resumes Wednesday following strike

first_img Facebook Comments Trains are expected to run normally around Costa Rica’s greater metropolitan area on Wednesday after a strike staged by train drivers on Tuesday left some 16,000 people struggling to get to work and school.The Costa Rican Railroad Institute (INCOFER)’s brand new president Cristian Vargas said service would resume on Wednesday. Tuesday was Vargas’ first day on the job.The cancellation of the train service between San José and the provinces of Cartago and Heredia caused a saturation of commuters at bus stations in the three provinces. Lines at bus stations extended for several blocks, transport companies reported.The drivers’ strike came after INCOFER and the employees failed to come to an agreement on a new contract. The train drivers worked for an auxiliary company that was contracted by INCOFER, but the contract expired Monday.Catenaria, the new company hired to provide services for INCOFER, had yet to come to an agreement with train drivers for their continued employment. The employees demanded better working conditions, including increased wages, rain gear and a place to rest in between morning and evening shifts.The workers’ attorney, Jorge Regidor, said that after more than 10 hours of negotiations the new employer agreed to review current salaries and make a proposal in the next two weeks.Negotiations also included an agreement to provide employees with new uniforms and to pay travel expenses and accommodation for workers who live outside the train routes.The Public Services Regulatory Authority said Tuesday afternoon that it is considering filing an administrative complaint against INCOFER for suspending a public service that impacted the daily routine of thousands of citizens.Lawmakers agreed to call INCOFER president Vargas to appear before the Legislative Assembly on Thursday to explain why the train operator hired a new private contractor to provide train services.In 2015, trains transported a total of 3.7 million people around Cartago, Heredia and San José, INCOFER reported earlier this year. The company is working on opening a new route between San José and Alajuela. UH: Acuerdo entre maquinistas y contratista logra reanudación del servicio de trenes para mañana miércoles 17 de agosto en horario normal— INCOFERCR (@INCOFERCR) August 16, 2016center_img Related posts:Lawmaker proposes suspending permits of motorists who crash into trains Taxi drivers to stage another demonstration against Uber Taxi drivers to stage nationwide protest against Uber on Tuesday Costa Rica to purchase eight new trains from Chinese companylast_img read more

Costa Rican triathlete Leonardo Chacón finishes sixth at Xterra World Championship

first_imgRelated posts:Ironman competition to be held in Costa Rica for first time ever Costa Rica’s Nery Brenes qualifies for 200-meter dash in Olympics with new national record Costa Rica’s Román Urbina inducted into Mountain Bike Hall of Fame Olympic Update: Costa Rica still in search of defining moment in Rio A few months after competing in his second Olympic Games, Costa Rican triathlete Leonardo Chacón put on a gutsy performance at the Xterra World Championship in Maui, Hawaii. The 32-year-old from Liberia finished sixth in the men’s category Sunday with a total time of 2 hours 57 minutes and 14 seconds.The Xterra World Championship – a triathlon for qualified participants only that combines swimming, cycling, and trail running – hosted more than 800 athletes from around the world.Identifying itself as the “world’s premier off-road triathlon,” the grueling race leads participants through 20 miles of mountain biking and another 6.5 miles of trail running through Maui.The race seems to have taken its toll on Chacón, who posted a Facebook photo of himself clearly exhausted after the race Sunday. Chacón was bedridden after the grueling race in which he fell seven times. (Leonardo Chacón via Facebook)“I gave everything I had,” he wrote in the Facebook post. “The rains here in Maui made the bike route one of the most brutal ones that I’ve ever done. I fell seven times and was dehydrated but I couldn’t take myself out of the race. Far from excusing myself, I’m taking this as a learning experience and will look to keep getting better.”Chacón’s hard-fought finish earned him a $1,500 prize. In 2012, Chacón finished fourth in the Xterra World Championship in Maui, according to the Costa Rican Olympic Committee.The next few weeks won’t provide much recovery time for the triathlete, who is expected to compete in the famous Ruta de Los Conquistadores mountain bike race here in Costa Rica. The multi-day race begins Nov. 3 in Jacó before concluding in Limón two days later.The winners of the 2016 Xterra World Championship were Mexico’s Mauricio Méndez (men’s) and Bermuda’s Flora Duffy (women’s). Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Retiring in Costa Rica Come here with an open mind

first_imgRelated posts:A letter to our readers Tacos4Ticos gives back through football American Colony to host 56th annual U.S. Independence Day picnic on Sunday Locals in Manuel Antonio prevent robbery of U.S. tourist with citizen’s arrest A decade ago, Allen Dickinson sold his mortgage brokerage in Florida just before the housing market crash and moved down to Costa Rica as a retiree looking for a relaxing, inexpensive country where he could quietly live out the rest of his days.An increasingly expensive economy and an unexpected introduction to the woman who is now wife his taught Dickinson early on that sometimes life doesn’t happen according to one’s plans.Originally from Oregon, Dickinson, who served in the U.S. Navy for 23 years, has been living in the Central Valley since he moved here, citing ever-growing political tension and partisanship as his reasons for leaving the United States. In today’s especially hostile political climate, which has led many U.S. citizens to ponder whether they should take similar steps, Dickinson has some words of wisdom – and caution – for those looking to expatriate. He serves as the editor of the Association of Residents of Costa Rica’s (ARCR) El Residente magazine, which caters to retirees and those looking to come to Costa Rica.Dickinson sat down with The Tico Times to discuss his story. Excerpts follow.What brought you to Costa Rica?I never have figured out exactly what it was that got me to Costa Rica. I know what it was that got me out of the United States, though.What was that?I was sick and tired of the change in the culture. We are no longer a melting pot of different ideas and different perspectives. The country is now fractionalized into little groups of people who have their own cause and will do anything to destroy anything or anybody different from them.Now you’re able to look back at a United States that has gotten much more extreme to that effect. Are you glad that you’re seeing this from afar?I thought one of the things that would happen when I moved out of the country is that I would not be interested in what was going on there and not feel emotionally connected to it. And that hasn’t happened. I can’t seem to get it out of my system. I follow the news and read a lot on the internet. I’ve read a lot of negative messages from my friends.How long has been El Residente been running?El Residente has been going on for about 25 years and I’ve been behind the scenes editing for many years. A few years ago, when the director of ARCR was kidnapped, I was asked to take over because he was doing that job. When he came back he asked me to continue, and I’ve been doing it ever since.What were you doing when you initially came down to Costa Rica?I was in the mortgage brokerage business, and owned my own brokerage in Pensacola, Florida. In 2005 or 2006, I saw the writing on the wall. I couldn’t read it specifically but I knew that there was something going on that was going to be bad. So I took that opportunity to sell my business before everything collapsed and take off.What made you think something was going on? From what I’ve seen and read, no one knew it was coming, and those who did know were being laughed out of boardrooms. Those were the guys who had big money involved and didn’t want to see the obvious. There were just a lot of little things, little changes in the industry that when you added them all together, spelled bad things. And there was gossip – I can’t classify it any more than that – but there was gossip. You took a piece of information here and someone talking about something else there. Nothing that you could put your finger on, but just a feeling more than anything else that this is not good and things are not going to get better.That’s a lucky feeling to have. And at just the right time.Yeah, it certainly was.What has been the biggest challenge for you living here?Patience… Thank God I’m not a type-A personality. I just walked out of a store because they have an incorrect amount for the balance that I owe them; I have to go home to get the receipts to prove to them that the payments they’re showing I haven’t made actually have been made. It’s just a lack of sophistication in record-keeping, and that’s kind of indicative of a lot of things in this country.On the other side of the coin, you probably wouldn’t be living here still if it wasn’t worth it. What balances it out for you?I’m married to a Tica, and quite possibly I would be someplace else if I were not, if for no other reason than what has happened with the economy here. Everything is expensive. I have a limited income and that goes pretty quickly. Ten years ago it was relatively inexpensive… one of the reasons that I did end up here was anticipating that.If you could send a message to someone who’s looking to retire down here, what your initial piece of wisdom be?Certainly to do your research. Read online and buy any books you can find. If you then decide this is a place you want to come to, come with the idea that you are going to investigate it. Don’t come here and buy a house in the first three weeks that you’re here. People don’t know what the country is like and don’t know where they want to live, but they see someplace beautiful and buy it, and find out that’s not the area of the country for them. Come here with an open mind and don’t make any commitments for at least a year.Would you like to share your or your family’s coming-to-Costa Rica story? Contact us at kstanley@ticotimes.net or share a post or video with the hashtag #SoyMigranteCR.Read more stories of Costa Rican immigration here. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Costa Rica The Quiz How much has your adopted country changed you

first_imgRelated posts:Costa Rica, The Quiz: How much has your adopted country changed you? A love letter to Costa Rica’s second language The real secret of the world’s happiest country: grapes and MacGyver The bird who rules Costa Rica, and the language of rain See also: You can’t speak Spanish without huevosWhat’s the sound of one hand clapping?In Costa Rica, it’s a delicious little snap-snap-snap made by holding the hand nice and limp and flicking it from the wrist in a rapid, practiced way that makes the fingers smack together. Together, the gesture and snapping sound have a range of meaning roughly located where hilarity and astonishment overlap – in the neighborhood of, depending on the context, “Ooooh, close call!” or “Ooooh, you got TOLD!” or “Ooooh, no WAY!” Ever since my first foray into Costa Rican culture I’ve tried, and failed, to do it properly, and no dice. I guess my fingers, like my hips, are just genetically stiff, immobilized by more New England ice than a decade of tropical sun has been able to melt.When a person (or action, or neighborhood) is overly influenced by the United States, he or she or it is agringado/a. And while Gringos are generally met with benevolent tolerance or even affection in many parts of Costa Rica, agringado is not a compliment, betraying as it does an unfaithfulness to one’s roots. Certainly, U.S. culture is like a highly contagious disease here, peppering the landscape with Mickey Ds and the language with little bullet holes of Spanglish.But there are many foreigners who swim against the tide. We become, and actively seek to become, the opposite of agringado. We are the costarriqueñados, so to speak, and proud to be that way. We relish our little achievements, swapping our stories with our friends the way a Girl Scout might show off her badges. So I thought it was high time we had a little formal measure of our Costa Rican-ness, similar to the famous polómetro, a quiz that tells you how polo/a (a word often translated as tacky, but with some of the stigma and connotations of white trash) you are – do you have a CD hanging from your rearview mirror? Do you blare music from your cellphone in your pants pocket as you walk down the street? Here, thanks to many friends who sent me suggestions, is a special quiz for those of us who live in, or have lived in, Costa Rica.This is inevitably imperfect, incomplete, and full of generalizations. To paraphrase the Bard, if what follows should offend, think but this, mae: It was written with love and admiration. Picture a whole bunch of Gringos sitting around, unsuccessfully snapping their hands, trying to join the club.THE COSTARRIQUEÑADO QUIZDouble points on EVERY QUESTION if you no longer live in Costa Rica (because in that case your continuing devotion to these habits demonstrates extra commitment).Section 1. Transportation-Have you done any of the following within the past week? Emitted a preventive automatic honk as you approached an intersection at full speed (5 points). Used your hand extended through the window, as driver or passenger, to signal another driver (5 points). Ridden three to a bike (10 points). Ridden home on a skateboard while holding onto the back of a bus (50 points, but also, what would your mother say if she could see you doing that? Stop that immediately!).-Is a stop sign an indication that you should slow down (1 point)? A meaningless roadside decoration (5 points)? Or an indication to come to a full stop while looking both ways (subtract 20 points)?-Is passing on a double yellow line acceptable in certain situations (1 point)? Illegal (subtract 10 points)? What is this “double yellow line” of which you speak (20 bonus points)?-Can you describe the life story of the busker on the last bus you took (10 points)?-One point if you give your home address in reference to another point. Five if that other point is a bar. Ten if it is a plant or tree of some kind. Twenty if it is something that no longer exists.-One point for every minute in your last cab ride before the taxista s Uber driver asked you where you were from.Section 2. In the kitchen-Five points if you put ice in your beer. Double if you if you also do it on visits to your home country, occasioning horrified looks. Triple if you are also British or German.-Five points if you have personally prepared any of the following during the past month: gallo pinto, olla de carne, your own chilera.-Leche Pinito is: A) Powdered milk (0 points). B) A national treasure (5 points). C) Something you have carried across international borders to give as gifts (15 points).-You have eaten a tamal (1 point). You have helped make them (5 points). You have organized, directed and executed the tamal-making (500 points and honorary citizenship). You’ve done all this using a woodstove (1,000 points and would you please have us over next time?).-You drink your coffee: A) With food, always. Otherwise it’s café con lengua and completely sin gracia (5 points). B) You don’t drink coffee (subtract 25 points). C) In a to-go cup while walking down the street (subtract 50 points).-You make your coffee using a chorreador (5 points).-You keep your eggs on the counter instead of the fridge (5 points). Double if you bought them from the egg man. Triple if you and the egg man are on a first-name basis.Section 3. Gestures and Language-Quick! Without thinking, pronounce the following: Imperial, rice and beans, Popeyes, ice. Five points for each word you automatically pronounced como Dios manda: imperiAL, RICE-an-beans, Pop-EY-ess (three syllables, middle one rhymes with hey). Ten points if you pronounced ice, EEE-say (yes, I wrote it in lowercase letters, but we’re setting the bar high).-One point for every way you can spell Michael Jordan.-When you want to signal someone to come here, do you wave your hand in a downward fashion (10 points), make a “ssst! sst!” sound (also 10 points), or beckon (subtract 5 points)?-Two points each if you regularly use any of the following sounds: O-pa, Upe!, Uuuuuuy!, jueeeee….-Five points if, when texting, you write Jajaja instead of Hahaha.-Do you regularly use any of the following gestures? Sliding one hand quickly out of the other (let’s go!), the one-handed finger snap described earlier (10 points each).-If you correctly use vos, 15 points. Exclusively usted, 10 points. Tú, subtract 10 points (yes, there is a pro-tuteo movement in Costa Rica, and if you can convincingly describe said movement, you can have your points back, although in defense of national linguistic idiosyncrasy we won’t reward you any additional points).-Five points each if, on visits home, you have unwittingly spoken in Spanish to a non-Spanish-speaking and very confused taxi driver or waiter. Double if you did this to a family member.Section 4. Miscellany-Complete the following phrase: Verás a tu pueblo valiente y viril, la… (10 points).-Five points each if you have been to any of the following: a rezo, a ride on the Tagada, a bullfight. Triple if you have been inside the bullring (and please see the comment for riding your skateboard behind a bus).-Twenty points if you have a toothbrush and toothpaste in your purse/backpack/office desk drawer right now.-One point for every member of the 2014 Men’s National Team you can name. Five points for every member of the 1990 Men’s National Team you can name. If you need clarification as to which sport, subtract 100 points.-Five points if you kiss your female Gringa friends on the cheek (or friends from whatever your country/culture of origin, if it is non-cheek-kissing).-Five points if you automatically clear your agenda for the day whenever you have a trámite of any kind.-Subtract 20 points for any of the following: Walking through downtown San José dressed as if for a Chirripó hike. Punctuality. Drinking tropical drinks with little umbrellas at the beach (unless done occasionally with a sense of deep irony). Wearing a Hawaiian or Pura Vida Imperial shirt. Speaking Spanish with other Gringos unnecessarily (very good for language development but generally intolerable after initial entry).-You know you’re not going to add up the points at the end because that’s just too obsessive-compulsive for you. Mae, qué pereza (25 points).Your score: 0-50 points – Don’t give up your first passport just yet. 50-100 points – Intermediate pura vida. Over 100 points – Mae, mas Tico que el Güipipía. (My score: 100. I have a ways to go.)More importantly, what did we leave out? Let me know! Facebook Commentscenter_img Originally published on Feb. 2, 2015. Read previous Maeology columns here.Katherine Stanley Obando is the editor of The Tico Times and the author of “Love in Translation: Letters to My Costa Rican Daughter,” a book of essays about motherhood, Costa Rica’s unique street slang, bicultural parenting, and the ups and downs of living abroad. She lives in San José. For more from Katherine about Costa Rican life and culture, follow her on Facebook or Twitter, or subscribe to the Love in Translation blog.last_img read more

Ana Paula Rivera The restless body and the art of dance

first_imgAna Paula Rivera is a stage artist, yoga teacher, massage specialist, producer at the Heredia Symphony Orchestra and more.She’s basically a restless human body.That restless body turns movement into art at Colectivo El Espacio, Rivera’s workspace. It’s an apartment from the 70s that transforms with each project she’s involved in.Some of these projects include Mesa Oculta, a project designed to bring people closer to art through food, and Santa Chochera, an independent dance group composed of women, in which each one directs, as well as each participates in the projects of the others. Iva Alvarado / The Tico TimesRivera invited us into Colectivo El Espacio to teach us more about its history.Her journey began in Puntarenas, where she was part of a dance group. After that, she moved to Santa Ana with her mother, who started working at her school, planning activities and choreographies. She laughed and said her mother put her in every event.She realized that she wanted to be a dancer after her sister took her to the theater to see a show by the dance company, Losdenmedium. She was captivated by the way Doris Campbell danced.“I wanted to be like her,” Rivera said.Thanks to this she decided to go to the Conservatorio Castella, where she trained in theater. After that, she went to the Universidad Nacional (UNA) to study dance. Iva Alvarado / The Tico TimesShe got a bit bored of the university dynamic though and snuck into a class at the El Barco Conservatory, a Costa Rican dance hallmark.“[The director] found out that I infiltrated the class,” she said. But instead of kicking her out, they invited her to make a formal audition.They accepted her.After that, she took part in productions, festivals, and workshops across Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Peru, Bolivia, Brazil and Italy. She has also participated in productions with the Losdenmedium, the dance company that inspired her as a child.But the first time the company called her to be part of one of the productions, she broke her leg. But her recovery came more opportunities.She is currently working on a solo project about todología, the idea that all people can be politicians, journalists, art critics, but don’t realize how much work is involved. She wants it to be an interactive show. Iva Alvarado / The Tico TimesThe desire for interactivity motivated her to create Mesa Oculta.“Analyzing the public, you go to Barrio Escalante and see restaurants full of people, but you go to a theater and it’s empty,” River said. “People are around food, for example, you go to a party in a house and everyone gets into the kitchen. Then, you realize that food is a good excuse to get people involved with art.”In Mesa Oculta, a special guest proposes an activity about their work and people who attend are a part of it. There is always food in between.There have been 14 Mesas Ocultas and some of the special guests include Francesco Bracci, Juan José Durán, Catalina Naranjo, Rebeca Zamora, Esteban Monje and Berenice Jiménez. Only ten people can participate in each event and the reservation is made through their Instagram profile. Iva Alvarado / The Tico TimesRivera’s days are full of activity and creation. Between her work with the symphony, dance, yoga and massages; she learns something new every day. What she learns then gets factored into her creative process.For Rivera, inspiration comes to her through exposure to all kinds of situations and people. She says everything can be embodied in art, especially dance. Iva Alvarado / The Tico TimesOur Weekend Arts Spotlight is brought to you by the Jason Babchuk Gallery/W22 Galería.“Weekend Arts Spotlight” presents Sunday interviews with artists who are from, working in, or inspired by Costa Rica, ranging from writers and actors to dancers and musicians. Do you know of an artist we should consider, whether a long-time favorite or an up-and-comer? Email us at alex@ticotimes.net.Ivannia Alvarado is a communicator and inveterate traveler. Photography captured her world about a year ago; she found in this art the perfect medium to communicate, report, create awareness, but most of all, demonstrate that life’s not that bad if you can look at it. She also works in production and development of content related to culture and the city. Instagram: @ivacaminando. Facebook Comments Related posts:5 questions for Costa Rican artist Raudyn Alfaro 5 questions for a Costa Rican tattoo artist – ‘A tattoo is rooted in what you feel’ 5 questions for Costa Rican pole trainer Elena Hütt 5 questions for Costa Rican street artist MUSHlast_img read more

Late Bee Gee Robin Gibb hailed in Britain

first_img Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family Clean energy: Why it matters for Arizona Sponsored Stories Comments Share BBC broadcaster Paul Gambaccini, who has covered the music scene for decades, said the Bee Gees have left an enduring musical legacy.“The Bee Gees are second only to (John) Lennon and (Paul) McCartney as the most successful songwriting unit in British popular music,” he said. “Their accomplishments have been monumental. Not only have they written their own number one hits, but they wrote huge hit records for Barbra Streisand, Diana Ross, Dionne Warwick, Celine Dion, Destiny’s Child, Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers. The list goes on and on.”Gibb was also committed to helping the Bomber Command Association establish a memorial for the veterans.“Without his devoted support and commitment we would not be where we are today,” the group said in a statement Monday. “It is a tragedy that Robin will not see the finished article. But Robin did his bit for all who served in Bomber Command and on the behalf of the veterans and the relatives of those who died in World War II, we would simply like to say, thank you.”(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements 5 greatest Kentucky Derby finishes How Arizona is preparing the leader of the next generation New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates Associated PressLONDON (AP) – One day after he succumbed to cancer, Bee Gee Robin Gibb was hailed in his native Britain Monday as a master musician whose interests went far beyond the recording studio.The distinctive singer, who wrote and arranged numerous hits for other major artists, was also recognized for his work on behalf of British veterans and his interests in politics, history and the Titanic.Former Prime Minister Tony Blair, a longtime friend of Gibb, said the singer had a “wonderful open and fertile mind” and offered condolences to Gibb’s widow, Dwina, and their family. Top Stories “Robin was not only an exceptional and extraordinary musician and songwriter, he was a highly intelligent, interested and committed human being,” Blair said.Gibb suffered a lengthy illness and had appeared extremely gaunt in his rare public appearances during the last year. He was forced to cancel most of his engagements after he suffered an alarming weight loss and required emergency intestinal surgery.He did find the energy, however, to compose “The Titanic Requiem” with the help of his son, RJ. But Gibb lapsed into a coma and was too sick to attend the gala premiere last month.The classical composition about the loss of the Titanic marked a new direction for the multi-talented Gibb, who along with his brothers Barry and Maurice created an enduring performing and songwriting team.Casual listeners knew them best for the innovative disco sound they created with the “Saturday Night Fever” soundtrack, but music industry insiders viewed the brothers Gibb as extremely versatile music makers. Songs they wrote for other artists include “Islands in the Stream” by Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers, “Heartbreaker” by Dionne Warwick and “Woman in Love” by Barbra Streisand.last_img read more

Youthful rebel targets Greek establishment

first_img Sponsored Stories The extreme left-wing Tsipras believes the budget-cutting imposed on Greece, which is suffering through its fifth year of recession and an unemployment rate nearly 22 percent, should be cancelled. Global financial markets are on tenterhooks over a possible victory by the tough-talking 37-year-old, who dresses casually and has a portrait of the Argentine revolutionary Che Guevara on his office wall.His radical agenda scares even many Europeans who have railed against austerity. And if he’s given the power to carry it out, Greece may soon find itself kicked out of the euro common currency.Opinion polls now put his Tsipras’ Syriza party, which long struggled to win seats in Parliament, in a dead heat with the once powerful center-right New Democracy. The election is June 17.Greeks deserted mainstream parties in May 6 inconclusive elections after the country sank into a government-debt crisis that forced draconian spending cuts. Even low-income pensioners and minimum wage-earners have been forced to make sacrifices.“The rotten and reliant establishment is making its last stand. Their dominance is ending after they looted the country and saddled it with debt,” Tsipras said at a recent campaign appearance. Clean energy: Why it matters for Arizona Associated PressATHENS, Greece (AP) – Alexis Tsipras has rarely been on good terms with Greece’s establishment.During high school, he took part in a three-month student protest against education reform that shook the conservative government of the time in the early 1990s, appearing on television as a confident 16-year-old spokesman for the protest movement.Two decades later, he’s rattling Europe and the world economy as he campaigns to become Greece’s next leader with a simple if startling pledge: to tear up a multibillion-euro international agreement that bailed out Greece as it hurtled toward bankruptcy. Comments Share Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates Fully named the Coalition of the Radical Left, Syriza is an amalgam of small and often fringe left-wing groups and has its roots in the Euro-Communist movement of the late 1960s. It is led by a party formed in 1991 that split from the hardline Greek Communist Party, or KKE, following the collapse of the Soviet Union.As a teenager, Tsipras briefly joined the KKE youth.Since the last major split in the Left two decades ago, Syriza has been a magnet for left-wing intellectuals unable to stomach the KKE’s unconditional opposition to the European Union. Politically, however, most have spent their careers in obscurity.Until now. At a recent campaign event, camera crews from around the world packed into an arts center where Tsipras spoke, as supporters chanted “The hour of the left has arrived!”Embassy representatives from Cuba, Venezuela and France were present, as Syriza listed each of its campaign promises to loud applause: Axed benefits will be restored, troops will come home from Afghanistan and other overseas missions, police will be banned from using tear gas at demonstrations.If he wins on Sunday, Tsipras left little doubt over his intentions.“The first act of the new Left government, immediately after parliament is formed, will be to cancel the bailout terms and the laws passed to implement (austerity),” he said. “People should remember that Greece is still a democracy: The voters elect their representatives, and they exercise their sovereign right to pass the laws of the land.”(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Top Stories Friends describe him as down-to-earth and committed to change. He is Greece’s first major political leader to be born after the fall of the country’s 1967-74 military dictatorship, which ended decades of political turmoil. He grew up in an era of unprecedented political freedom in Greece, without having experienced any of the harsh polarization between left and right that marked the country since the mid-1930s.“He has played a big role in the party’s (success), mainly because he’s a politician who does not keep his distance from people,” ranking Syriza member Sofia Sakorafa told the AP.Sakorafa, a longtime javelin world record holder before going into politics, said she was impressed by Tsipras’ ability reach out to voters.“He can talk to people, and he is genuine. He wins them over with the truth as he believes it.”Rarely seen wearing a tie, Tsipras has broken the mold of the Greek career politician. Unlike many of them, he isn’t linked to one of the country’s powerful families, and during the crisis he hasn’t been seen as being out of touch.He has been riding high on a wave of anti-austerity sentiment that has swept the country as deep spending cuts have eaten into health care, salaries and pensions, sent the unemployment rate soaring and forced tens of thousands of businesses to shut down since late 2009. New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths 3 international destinations to visit in 2019 Despite two international rescue loan packages, Greece has been unable to pull itself out of its debt crisis, leading the heads of all the main political parties to argue for some form of renegotiation to the terms. But it is Tsipras who has the most radical approach, saying that simply extending loan repayment times or slightly tweaking targets will not work. He wants the terms cancelled.But while the iPad-tapping, football-watching civil engineer has youthful appeal, not everyone is buying it.A growing number of political opponents have a different description for him: an irresponsible populist, whose disregard for basic monetary arithmetic could nudge the country into financial oblivion.“Syriza is selling the public a fairytale with populism and propaganda of the worst kind … pretending they can solve the country’s problems with a magic wand,” Theodoros Pangalos, deputy prime minister in the previous Socialist-led government, told private Real FM radio.Mainstream parties and market analysts insist Tsipras cannot shred Greece’s deal with 16 other eurozone countries and expect to remain in the single currency for long.“(His) views only have appeal because of the exceptionally difficult circumstances this country and its people are in,” Pangalos said. Syriza came second to the conservatives in May 6 elections that failed to produce a government, winning nearly 17 percent of the vote and increasing its support four-fold.Polls before a two-week pre-election ban projected Syriza’s support could have surged to as high as 30 percent, with the race between Tsipras and the conservatives polarized by the crisis. Most have him neck-and-neck with the conservative New Democracy party.Greece’s (EURO)240 billion financial rescue from the EU and International Monetary Fund came with harsh conditions that have caused a dramatic drop in living standards as an average of 900 people have lost their job per day.The country, Tsipras argues, is now trapped in a revolving door of debt, with banks recovering their money from new state loans from the EU, which steadily add a burden on ordinary Greeks, depriving them of wealth and services.“Bankruptcy is not when the bankers have no money … Bankruptcy is what we are living through today, it is the destruction of pension funds, it is hospitals running out of money and medicine, it is schools with no books and children who arrive hungry in the morning,” he told parliament in February, when lawmakers slashed the minimum wage and other benefits to secure a second massive rescue package. More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements 5 ways to recognize low testosterone Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, familylast_img read more

Venezuela Indians Germany should return boulder

first_img New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths “It is not a jasper, it is not stolen, it is not a holy stone _ it’s a pity it needed so many lies to make this conflict and that is why it is very important to get back to the truth,” he said Thursday from Berlin’s central Tiergarten park, where the stone is one of five that make up his “Global Stone” display.Pemon leaders say the stone is sacred because it represents a tribal legend handed down over many generations detailing how a young Pemon man named Kueka fell in love with a girl from another tribe and married her. Kueka’s actions, they say, angered the Pemon deity Makunaima, who opposed inter-tribal marriage. Makunaima punished Kueka and his wife by turning them into stone, thereby immortalizing them as the Pemon’s grandfather and grandmother.Flores and other Pemon Indians at Thursday’s protest referred to the stone in Germany as the tribe’s `grandmother.” Taking the stone away threw off Venezuela’s natural balance, they contend, sparking the deadly floods and mudslides that killed tens of thousands of people in 1999, after the stone was taken.Germany’s ambassador to Caracas, Georg-Clemens Dick, met with the protesters outside the embassy in Caracas and told them he would discuss their demands with government officials in Berlin. Early signs of cataracts in your parents and how to help Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family Melchor Flores, a 37-year-old representative of the Pemon who led the march, said, “It’s not just a stone. It’s part of our culture and they must return it.”He said the boulder, known to the Pemon as the “Kueka Stone,” belongs in his community among the grasslands and table-top mountains of the Gran Sabana region. He and others traveled overnight by bus from the region to reach Caracas.In Berlin, artist Wolfgang Kraker von Schwarzenfeld said the protest is the latest controversy over the stone in what has been a 15-year saga. Von Schwarzenfeld removed the boulder from Venezuela’s Canaima National Park in 1997. He said that despite having permission from Venezuelan officials and documentation that the rock was a gift to “the German people,” the initial operation was slowed by local officials who thought it had been stolen.It was then delayed further after the red sandstone was mistaken for semi-precious jasper, which is also found in the area.Von Schwarzenfeld said that Pemon Indians helped him choose it and there was never any question of it being of religious or cultural value to the indigenous community.He suggested that President Hugo Chavez’s government may have contrived the current controversy in order to help secure political support from the Pemon ahead of an Oct. 7 presidential election. He said two YouTube videos have helped spread the idea that the stone is a sacred relic. Top Stories Men’s health affects baby’s health too Reading a written statement, Dick said he has already spoken with officials from Venezuela’s Foreign Ministry, and emphasized that bringing back the boulder would be no simple task.“I ask that you understand the difficulty that an act of this nature entails,” he said.Von Schwarzenfeld said the upside of the current controversy is that it has focused attention on the native people in Venezuela and their rights.“The simplest way of solving the problem is … talking with the indigenous people, saying this was an error and apologize, ask for forgiveness, and also ask for them to please donate the stone to the people of the world,” he said. The stone display, he added, is a “worldwide peace project.”___Associated Press writer David Rising reported from Berlin.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)center_img Associated PressCARACAS, Venezuela (AP) – A 35-ton Venezuelan stone that makes up part of a global peace project in Germany is evoking more rage than harmony.The sandstone boulder on display in a Berlin park drew protests in Venezuela Thursday as a group of Pemon Indians demanded the rock, which they view as sacred, be returned to their homeland.More than 100 indigenous Pemon, many of them wearing loincloths, marched to the German Embassy in Caracas, raising ornamental spears and chanting: “Return the stone!” Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates Sponsored Stories Comments Share How Arizona is preparing the leader of the next generation More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvementslast_img